It seems that every summer for the past ten years I've made these by the hundreds! The mini-meringue nests in particular are hugely popular and always requested when catering events. The regular meringue nests can be served for dessert or as a morning or afternoon treat with a coffee. No matter the size they are seriously delicious.
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup double thick cream
assorted berries and fruit
NB: All bowls and utensils must be exceptionally clean, grease free and dry.
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 120°C. Lightly grease two oven trays (just enough for baking paper to stick to tray). For meringue nests, take an egg ring and trace six-eight circles in pencil on baking paper. Place baking paper, pencil side down, on the tray. For mini meringues, simply line each tray with baking paper.
Step 2 - Place egg whites in a glass bowl and beat on med-high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. You will know egg whites are done when you can invert the bowl and egg whites stay in place.
Step 3 - Adding sugar 1 tbs at a time, continue beating until all sugar has been incorporated. To test, dip your forefinger into the meringue and rub between your finger and thumb. If meringue is grainy, it needs more beating. If it is smooth, it is ready.
Step 4 - Using a spatula, transfer meringue to a piping bag that has been fitted with a star nozzle.
Step 5 a - For meringue nests, carefully pipe the base within the confines of the traced circle. Spiral the meringue from the outside to the centre, being sure not to leave any gaps. Pipe another two circles, one on top of the other, around the edge to build up the walls of the nest. (see picture next to step 1)
Step 5 b - For mini-meringue nests, pipe a small circle. about an inch in diameter, and after filling the base continue to spiral up, in one fluid movement, around the edges to create the sides of the nest.
Step 6 - Transfer trays to oven and bake for 1 - 1 1/4 hours, until meringue is crisp. Turn off heat and leave meringues to cool in oven with the door ajar. When cool, remove from oven and set aside.
Step 7 - Place mascarpone and cream in a bowl and mix until combined. Divide mixture between meringue nests. Top with berries and/or fruit and transfer to a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar if desired and serve immediately.